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May is a fiesta of jazz with two festivals on

FESTIVALS begin in May, on both sides of the border. The Bray Jazz Festival runs from Friday, May 4, to Monday, May 7, while the City of Derry Jazz Festival begins on May 3 and ends on May 7.

Bray sticks to the winning formula of 'small is beautiful', with three starring groups in the Mermaid Arts Centre and others in various venues around town.

The Tord Gustavsen Trio from Norway opens the event with Gustavsen (piano), Mats Eilertsen (bass) and Jarle Vespestad (drums).

Their music is understated, with a little touch of Nordic gloom, but always melodic.

Susana Baca should be more exciting. The Peruvian singer will perform on the Saturday night with Hugo Bravo (percussion), Ernesto Hermoza (guitar, charango), Oscar Huaranga (bass) and Maria Elena Belevan (violin).

A splendid voice, dramatic feeling and irresistible rhythms make this concert a probable highlight.

Don Byron, who plays on May 6, is credited with reviving the clarinet in jazz. Playing with a straight, vibratoless tone, he can sound mellifluous or funky, humourous or solemn. He also plays bass clarinet and tenor sax.

Having experimented with everything from opera to R&B, he is now on a gospel kick, leading his New Gospel Quintet with Barbara Walker (vocals), Xavier Davis (piano), Brad Jones (bass) and Pheeroan akLaff (drums).

Up-and-coming Irish singer Edel Meade will lead the Swoo-Beh Project in the Royal Hotel, Bray, at 2pm on the Saturday, and Emilie Conway will sing in Hollands that night at 10pm. Details: brayjazz.com

In the City of Derry Jazz Festival, Linley Hamilton (trumpet) and John Leighton (piano) will present The Charlie Parker Story with Tom Harrison (alto sax) playing the title role. Jean Toussaint (tenor sax) will be a welcome guest with Paul McIntyre (piano), Dave Fleming (bass) and Steve Davis (drums). Soweto Kinch appears with the David Lyttle group, while Ruby Turner and Mirenda Rosenberg will take care of the vocals.

As usual, there will be lots of school and college bands.

Details are available at

cityofderryjazzfestival.com

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